Archive:Bungie.net/News/Hosting a LAN Party

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Posted by Anonymous User (Deleted) at 11/14/2001 8:11 AM PST

Hosting a LAN Party

Hosting a LAN Party

By Matt Soell

November 14, 2001

An important function of the Seventh Column is the regular gathering of its members for training, competition and socializing. Most gatherings are small, low-key affairs, but even these require a great deal of planning and preparation if you want them to go off without a hitch. This article is a quick and easy roadmap that, if followed faithfully, should make any gathering you host a pleasant and thrilling experience for the attendees.

PLAN YOUR GATHERING

Before you can begin the process of organizing a gathering you'll need to know exactly what you intend to do. In theory it sounds very simple - just get a bunch of people together in the same room, play games and have fun, right? Sounds great until you try it.

Start by making an educated guess about how many people will attend. Use the number of people in your chapter as a starting point, but remember that some might not be able to show up and a few of them might bring friends. Of course, you'll be able to use your Seventh Column web site to gauge interest and get a more accurate list of attendees -- and we recommend that you do. But you should put a bit of thought into setting up your gathering before announcing it to anyone. It will save you work in the long run.

Once you know the approximate number of people who'll attend, read on for an in-depth discussion of what you'll need to do.

FIND A LOCATION

The first thing you'll need to do is secure a location. For the sake of convenience it probably makes the most sense to hold each gathering in your own home or the home of another Seventh Columnist in your chapter. If your chapter grows especially large, you may need to consider renting out a larger space.

You'll also want to pick a prospective date and time to hold your gathering. Obviously you'll want to be as inclusive as possible, so evenings and weekends are pretty safe - but you'll need to check with the members of your chapter and try to accommodate their schedules when possible. You might want to pick a fallback date just in case the first one falls through for some reason.

Once you've got a place in mind, you'll need to make sure it's up to the task. You have a rough estimate of how many people are coming - is there enough room for all of them to sit comfortably while playing? (You can always get some folding chairs or floor pillows if the couch won't hold everyone and the floor is uncomfortable.) Are there enough bathrooms that you won't have to wait in line for an excruciating ten minutes?

Is there enough affordable parking for everybody? Could someone in a wheelchair get there without undue hassle?

SECURE EQUIPMENT

On to the equipment. Is there enough table space for people to set up their Xboxes, laptops, computers, etc? If others are bringing Xboxes, are there multiple TVs already set up, or will they need to bring their TVs as well? Are there enough power outlets for everyone to plug in their laptops/Xboxes/etc. without blowing a fuse or tripping the circuit breaker? Keep in mind that you may need some power strips and/or extension cords to hook everyone up.

What about networking? If you're planning on multiplayer gaming (and if this is a Seventh Column gathering, you are) you'll need to make sure the people who are bringing PCs or Xboxes will be able to connect them via a Local-Area Network; you may even want internet access. Do you have access to an Ethernet hub and enough Ethernet cable to connect everyone? If space issues force some people into other rooms, will your Ethernet cable stretch far enough? Is there a cable, DSL, or leased-line connection that people can share?

Once you've checked out the place and made sure it will hold all the people and equipment, secure the venue. If you're using your own home this shouldn't even be an issue, though you might want to make sure your dog isn't planning on hosting a poker game the same night. If you're renting a place especially for the occasion you'll need to chat with the owner, pay for the place so he doesn't rent it to anyone else, and arrange for any other services you might need.

If you're renting a larger space for a larger gathering, you may need to consider extra equipment: a public address system and microphones so you can address the room without screaming, a video projection system and screen(s) so you can project images where the whole room can see them, and of course chairs and tables. Much of this can be rented relatively easily; the owner of the space may be able to help with tables and chairs and the Yellow Pages will take care of the rest.

ADVERTISE

Once you've settled on a date, time and place, it's time to let the members of your chapter know what's in store. Lucky you - we've made this extremely easy. You can post a notice to your Seventh Column chapter's News page.

You can find your news page by surfing to www.bungie.net, clicking the Seventh Column link and then the My Fan Clubs link. Instructions for logging in and posting new messages are available on the site.

Make sure your Chapter's page offers clear directions to the gathering. You may also want to discuss questions like what sort of food everyone wants or what games they want to play.

PREPARE

Figure out a schedule for your gathering. Even if a bunch of people are just going to show up and play games, it helps to have a little structure to the evening. If you're doing anything more than just playing - discussing future competitions, group travel plans to a Bungie FanFest, etc. - then it's absolutely essential you make a schedule so nothing gets overlooked.

The day of the gathering you'll need to make sure everything is in order. Start by cleaning up the site of the gathering. No one can play their best or truly enjoy themselves when they can smell the dishes that have been sitting in the sink since the Nixon administration. Remember, you are hosting a meeting of a worldwide organization. You don't have to scrub the baseboards with a toothbrush but you should achieve and maintain a certain basic level of decorum.

Once the place itself is ready start getting the equipment together. If people are bringing their own Xboxes, laptops, etc. you will obviously need to wait until those components arrive. But you can get a head start by making sure the available equipment is set up and in working order, and setting up any power strips, extension cables, Ethernet hubs, or any other equipment you might need.

You should make sure there are food and drinks for everyone. Nothing too fancy - it can be soda and chips, if everyone is cool with that. Pizza is the obvious choice since it's relatively cheap, can be customized to suit a variety of tastes and is usually delivered in an hour or less. The only limit is set by how many chapter members are attending this gathering and how much they feel like pitching in for food. As noted earlier, you should discuss this in advance.

If you're hosting enough people that it makes sense to split them up into teams, you might want to take the opportunity before the gathering to draw up a list of teams; if you'd rather let the members of your Seventh Column chapter set up the teams on their own, at least put some thought into how the games will be structured.

MANAGE

Once people start arriving you'll need to keep an eye on the proceedings. That doesn't mean you can't participate in the fun, but someone needs to take responsibility for keeping things moving and fixing problems when or preferably before they occur.

As people start arriving let them know where they should set up their equipment, and offer to help if they need it. Connecting to an impromptu network can be a frustrating experience, especially for a newbie, and something as simple as a bad cable could drastically reduce the number of players in a game, and consequently the amount of fun at your gathering.

When everyone shows up (or at least enough people that it makes no sense to delay the proceedings) grab your schedule and try your best to stick to it. Any announcements, speeches, or teary confessionals are best done at the beginning of the gathering. Everyone wants to get down to business and play; the fun stuff should happen as soon as possible.

Make sure everyone knows where the food, drinks and bathrooms are.

Take a look around on a regular basis to make sure everything is proceeding without mishaps, especially if you have a large group of people or have separated people into different rooms.

CLEAN UP

It sounds obvious and perhaps it is if you're hosting the gathering in your own home, but if you're in someone else's home or renting out a venue you might need a gentle reminder.

Be sure to talk with the owner of the venue and find out specifically what you'll need to do to bring the site up to his or her standards when you're done. You probably won't need to paint the place (unless doing so gets you a sweet deal) but you'll probably need to collect and dispose of any garbage, clean up any spills, and repair any structural damage caused when the less-capable players take out their frustrations on the plaster walls.

Make sure any Seventh Columnist who has brought equipment - especially expensive electronic equipment like laptops, TVs and Xboxes - gets it back. Don't let them forget their power cables, Ethernet cables, etc. - but don't let them accidentally walk off with anyone else's stuff either.

Any equipment you rented or borrowed for the occasion must be packed up securely and returned to the person or company who rented it to you.

That's it! You're now armed with the basic information you need to set up your first Seventh Column gathering. Remember: there is strength in numbers. Unite and the planet is ours.